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Archive for the ‘Play’ Category

Bored During The Week: Fun Activities for Family Night

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In this busy world, there seem to be fewer and fewer times when a family has the opportunity to assemble all in one place. When a Mom has to work as well as take care of the kinds, these times seem to be even harder to come by. Kids often are burdened by extracurricular activities when they’re not in school, or else they’re out spending time with their friends. Sometimes even when they are home, it’s impossible to carve time out to get everybody in the same room to do something together. The kids might have homework, or you might have to bring some work home with you. You might all even get caught up in your cell phones.

Yet it’s been proven time and again that the benefits for families who spend time together are numerous. It might even require you to demand a certain night be ordained each week as Family Night. Whatever gets you and the kids together in the same room in the house together for a couple of hours with no distraction is clearly worth it. Once you’ve got everybody corralled and ready to have some fun, you need to be ready for some fun activities to keep their attention. You can always fall back on things like movies or board games, but why not come up with something different than the usual? That will make them crave Family Night instead of dreading it.

If you’re looking for a new location for Family Night because your old residence doesn’t cut it anymore, there are new homes for sale for just about every budget that will meet your family’s needs. Once you get there, consider these activities with your kids to make it a night they won’t forget.

Get Out of This

One of the most exciting new entertainments to come around in the past decade or so are escape rooms. They require people to unite to solve problems in order to get out of a locked room. You can come up with some way to incorporate this into Family Night. Create the puzzles yourself, and then make the kids work together. If they get out in time, have a reward waiting.

The Family That Cooks Together

It can be a lot of fun to have everyone in the kitchen pitching in together for a family meal. Have the kids get together to agree upon a fun recipe which everyone will like. Even if it’s a sugary dessert, give them a break on the nutrition for a night so they can have a little fun.

Looking Back

Instead of just popping in a video or streaming a movie, you can create entertainment for the kids by cueing up a bunch of home videos, whether they’re on tape or on someone’s phone. Or you can pull out old photo albums. You’d be surprised at how nostalgic kids can be.

Remember that kids will react to new and exciting activities that are different from the norm. Use your imagination to make Family Night at your home the place to be.

 

This article was written by Natalie Bracco from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The 5 Best Outdoor Family Activities for the Most Time-Pressed Moms

Outdoor family activities don’t have to require a lot of planning or trips to the store. Here are five easy, low-cost ideas for working moms.

For any mother, time with your family is extremely valuable, especially when balancing that time with a career. You want to plan fun, entertaining activities to do with your children, but you also need ideas that don’t require a lot of time or an unwanted trip to the craft store.

Now that spring is in the air, you’re likely looking for ways to have fun outside as a family. These five outdoor activities are perfect for working moms who need simple yet creative ideas that don’t require much preparation.

1. Sidewalk chalk art

 

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Take the coloring outside! Sidewalk chalk is a great item to have on hand for when your children get bored. You can take turns tracing each other, turning yourselves into superheroes and other fun characters. Develop your child’s gross motor skills by playing hopscotch together. You can also use sidewalk chalk to build your child’s knowledge of shapes, letters or numbers. For example, try having your little one run or jump to circles, squares, triangles and rectangles as you name each shape.


2. Sensory scavenger hunt

 

Children playing in nature

 

Photo: iStock

This can also be an opportunity to teach your kids about nature.

Turn scavenger hunts into sensory scavenger hunts! Identify the smells and sounds of nature together. It’s a simple way to have a scavenger hunt without requiring time to develop clues or buy additional resources. See what your children can find, whether it’s birds chirping or flowers blooming. If something sparks their curiosity during the scavenger hunt, let them explore and ask questions.


3. Car wash

 

Girl washing the car with mom

 

Photo: iStock

A fun activity that checks a chore off of your To-Do list.

As a working mom, your to-do list may be a mile long, so get the whole family involved with chores like washing the car. Your little ones will enjoy splashing in the water and playing with bubbles! They can also wash their trikes, bikes or toy cars! Car washes are fun, and doing them together is a great way to check something off your to-do list.


4. Bubbles

 

Family blowing bubbles

 

Photo: iStock

Kids of all ages love bubbles.

If your children love making bubbles during car washes, they’ll love blowing bubbles too. The best part? You don’t even have to purchase bubble solution, which can go quickly with accidental spills. Homemade bubbles are fun to make and may save you a little bit of cash.

The simplest recipe only requires one part liquid dish soap to 15 parts water. Combine the soap and water in a large dish or bucket and stir gently. Dip your favorite household wand like a slotted spoon or coat hanger. Have some fun cookie cutters available? Those are great for making bubbles into different shapes!


5. Evening walk

 

Family walking together

 

Photo: iStock

Going for a walk is also great exercise for the whole family.

After a work day, get outside with the children for a walk around the neighborhood. You can even grab a couple slices of bread and walk to a nearby park to feed the ducks.

An evening walk is a great way to release the stress of the day and let your children get rid of excess energy before bedtime. Take this time to catch up as a family and learn about each other’s day. You may notice this quality time together becoming a treasured family ritual.

Activities that are engaging don’t have to be complicated or expensive. After a long day of work, you’re ready for quality family time. Make it fun and easy with these activities.

Leslie Marley is the Director of Education and Curriculum at U-GRO Learning Centres, a premiere provider of early childhood and preschool education in Central Pennsylvania. Marley has worked in the field of early childhood education for more than 20 years. She is passionate about serving and empowering children and families.

 

This article was written by Leslie Marley from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The Super-Easy Secret to Making Any Playdate a Success

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Playdates are, in a way, like any other kind of date. When they go well, you (as the parent) want to sing a little song and do that move where you jump sideways and kick your heels together in mid-air. (There will be no eating lunch alone in the library for your kid!) When they go badly—like when one child hurls insults at, hits or openly despises the other in front of the woman who gave him life, it kinda feels like you’ll be scarred for the rest of yours.

But we have a genius antidote to all the social awkwardness (courtesy of our son’s seasoned former nursery school teacher): Cap the playdate at 45 minutes. Max. “End on a high” were her exact words.

Even if the kids are midway through constructing an elaborate Lego skyscraper and begging to stay for just one more minute, yank the one that belongs to you the eff outta there and get gone. Count your blessings, know when to fold ’em and cash out. Leave before things go bad, because—your kid is not an outlier—they almost always, inevitably do. “Keeping playdates short will help avoid meltdowns, squabbles and other misbehaviors,” say the parenting experts at Understood.org. “Giving fair warning by announcing that the playdate is nearly over and initiating cleanup time increases the likelihood that the playdate will end on a high note.” See, almost everyone can keep their game face on for the first 45 minutes. As the experts at Parents advise: “When in doubt, leave ’em wanting more.”

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Birthday Party Theme Ideas

Your little one is year older and super excited about the upcoming birthday party. It must be the most awesome party in the whole class. Here are a few themes that can make any birthday party tons of fun and entertaining.

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  • Zoo or safari theme
    • Adults can paint animal faces on younger children. Be sure to use the appropriate type of face paint.
    • Encourage all the children to come dressed as their favorite animal.
    • Have themed cake or cupcakes with zoo animal faces.
    • Set up some of your child’s stuffed animals around the house and walk through a safari path that you have made, pointing out the animals as you go.

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  • Luau theme
    • Hand out grass skirts to guests as they arrive.
    • Set up a tiki bar with various flavors of fruit punch.
    • Demonstrate a simple luau dance and encourage all the guests to learn how to do it.
    • Give all the children a goodie bag with items that they can use at the beach for their next family vacation.

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  • Circus theme
    • If you have a family pet, get creative and present a lion taming show with your pet.
    • Find a long piece of wood with no rough edges or use a few old shoe boxes taped together to make a small balance beam. Assist your aspiring acrobats across.
    • Set up games like pin the tail on the donkey, ring toss or a water balloon toss if it’s warm outside.
    • For those daring parents, set up a pie-throwing Children will always remember the birthday party where they were able to throw some pie.

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Additional creative themes include a fantasy land, a scientist’s laboratory, an undersea adventure, a spaceflight, a pirate’s treasure hunt or a prehistoric-period adventure with dinosaurs and fossils.

GODDARD SCHOOL PRESCHOOLERS SELECT THE TOP 10 EDUCATIONAL TOYS IN TIME FOR THE 2017 HOLIDAY SEASON

The Nation’s Leading Preschool System Chooses Top Toys That Support Playful Learning and Skill Development

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Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), franchisor of The Goddard School® a play-based, preschool system, has given children the chance of a lifetime to test the most innovative educational toys on the market through its 10th annual Preschooler-Approved Toy Test. Preschoolers from 50 Goddard Schools located across the United States voted for their favorite toys, and GSI is proud to announce the Top 10 Educational Toys they chose for 2017.

This summer, dozens of submissions from the world’s leading toy manufacturers were reviewed by The Goddard School Toy Test Committee, a team of early childhood education experts. The committee judged each submission by how much the toy encourages interaction and child-initiated play and by the toy’s ability to promote creativity and collaboration while maintaining the child’s creative interests over time.

The children, who range from six weeks to six years old, were sent 25 toys to play with and critique. With the help of their teachers, the preschoolers selected their favorite toys, and GSI compiled the results.

Following are The Top 10 Preschooler-Approved Toys for 2017. They are listed in the age-range order suggested for the children:

  • VTech – Lil’ Critters Shake & Wobble Busy Ball (Suggested Age Range: 3-24 months);
  • Fat Brain Toys – Oombee Cube (Suggested Age Range: 10+ months);
  • SMARTMAX – My First Safari Animals (Suggested Age Range: 1–5 years);
  • Peaceable Kingdom Monkey Around – The Wiggle and Giggle Game (Suggested Age Range: 2+ years);
  • VTech – Go! Go! Smart Wheels – Race & Play Adventure Park (Suggested Age Range: 1–5 years);
  • K’NEX – KID K’NEX Budding Builders Building Set (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years);
  • Melissa & Doug Star Diner Restaurant Play Set (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years);
  • Learning Resources Lil’ Lemonade Stand-Off – A Memory Matching Game (Suggested Age Range: 4+ years);
  • DuneCraft – Bucket of Balls (Suggested Age Range: 4+ years);
  • Learning Resources – Let’s Go Code! Activity Set (Suggested Age Range: 5+ years).

“Fun, interactive programs like our annual Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test are successful because they allow children to think critically while developing their social, creativity and collaboration skills,” said Dr. Craig Bach, GSI’s Vice President of Education. “This experience provides children the opportunity to engage with the top educational products on the market that are aligned with The Goddard School’s philosophy of learning through play.”

Voting to select 2017’s winning toy is now open to the public. The public can vote by visiting The Goddard School’s Toy Test page from November 1 to November 10, 2017. GSI will purchase one hundred units of the winning toy and donate them to Toys for Tots, a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve that distributes holiday gifts to less fortunate children in the community.

Past Preschooler-Approved Toy Test winners include Laser Pegs, K’NEX Brands, Learning Resources and John Deere’s Gearation Board. For more information on The Goddard School and the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, please visit www.goddardschool.com/toytest.

Total Solar Eclipse

On Monday, August 21, 2017, the moon will cover the sun, causing rapid temperature drops throughout the United States. This is known as a total solar eclipse. You can complete a simple craft with your children to help explain what the solar eclipse is and how it will look.

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Items that you will need:

  • Two sheets of black construction paper
  • One sheet of yellow construction paper
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Directions

Guide your child in cutting out a large circle from the yellow sheet of paper and glue it to one of the black sheets. Next, take the second black sheet of paper and cut out a circle slightly smaller than you cut from the yellow sheet. Slide the black circle across the yellow circle to show the different phases of the eclipse. Once you are done discussing the phases, glue the black circle to the center of the yellow circle so that just the edges of yellow are showing. This representation is a great way to explain to your children how the solar eclipse will look.

While completing this craft, discuss with your child why solar eclipses happen and how often they occur.

Five Benefits of Imaginative Play

Imaginative play benefits the growth of the cerebellum. This part of the brain is “responsible for key cognitive functions such as attention, language processing, sensing musical rhythms, and more” (Brown & Vaughan, 2009, p. 34). Here are five other benefits of imaginative play for children.

1. Play fosters the development of imagination. Imaginative play encourages children to be anything they want to be. This anything-goes thinking allows them to come up with ideas that they might not think about in a more structured environment.

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2. It encourages the development of problem-solving skills. Problem solving requires the ability to think creatively. Imaginative play involves experimenting with different activities, such as building with blocks or sculpting with modeling clay (White, 2015). Engaging in these playful activities helps children become more creative, which gives them the ability to solve different problems (Roskos & Christie, 2000).

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3. Play allows a child to fail without consequences. For example, when children play house, they imagine themselves as parents or spouses. They learn from those scenarios without dealing with negative consequences. Imaginative play, in other words, gives children the freedom to fail and try again without feeling defeated (Lillemyr, 2009).  

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4. It encourages social-emotional development. When pretending to be, say, a mother or a father, the child must imagine being in that person’s shoes. As a result, the child learns to interact and think about things as a parent, which helps the child become empathetic and practice language that is more in a parent’s vocabulary than a child’s.

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5. It helps children unwind. Unstructured imaginative play gives children the opportunity to be in their own world for a while without worrying about anything except playing and having fun.

 

References

Brown, S., & Vaughan, C. (2009). Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul. New York, NY: Avery.

Lillemyr, O. F. (2009). Taking play seriously: Children and play in early childhood education—An exciting challenge. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Roskos, K. A., & Christie, J. F. (2000). Play and literacy in early childhood: Research from multiple perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

White, R. E. (2015). The power of play: A research summary on play and learning. Retrieved from http://www.childrensmuseums.org/images/MCMResearchSummary.pdf